Cinema halls all over the country had opened up quite a while back, but the state of Maharashtra has been one of the last ones to give the green light to open up the theatres. The theatres are finally going to be running once again in the city of Mumbai and all over Maharashtra, albeit at a 50 per cent capacity for now. Having faced a financial crisis for almost a year and a half now, the theatre owners, distributors and filmmakers are happy with this decision. However, there are many who are still upset for varied reasons.
Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Limited, says, “It is very heart-warming to reopen our cinemas once again in the state of Maharashtra as it holds the key for the revival of the multiplex industry. Opening of Maharashtra is specifically significant for us as our screen presence in the state is the highest in our circuit and serves as a focal center for the entertainment industry. PVR had already reopened its cinemas on 30th July 2021 post the second wave in states and UT’s where multiplexes and theatres had been given the go-ahead to reopen with restrictions in seating capacity and operating hours. PVR has always strived to offer unique experiences and we certainly look forward to welcoming our patrons with fresh content, innovative offers, to enjoy movies exclusively with one’s friends and family in our 100% safe cinemas operated by our 100% vaccinated staff.”
Ajay Bijli, Chairman and Managing Director, PVR Limited, says, “Innovation and improvisation is in the DNA of our business which has echoed through our every offering. It is a proud moment for us to finally introduce our unique concept to the audience after the unprecedented times we battled through. Maison PVR is inspired by the French archetype and was born out of the quest to explore deeper and newer facets of luxury. It had a global creative team working on its each aspect intricately to bring the best for our India patrons. The effects of the pandemic will linger but we are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the theatre-going audience and with the change in the scenario, we can assure Maison PVR will be a delightful experience for the patrons. We are happy to welcome back our patrons in the key market of Mumbai, being the hub of the Hindi film industry and the state of Maharashtra.”
Prashant Kulkarni, Head of Sales, Marketing and New Business Expansion at Carnival Cinemas, says, "We at Carnival Cinemas are ready with all the safety measures and are excited to welcome audiences back to the best immersive movie watching experience - on the big screen. We have ensured that all SOP's are taken care of as these are for the safety of our patrons. We are also promoting pre-booking and pre-sales online and QR codes based ordering, as it will help our customers to cut the queue and also help avoid crowding. And that's not all, we have exciting reopening day offers- like in Maharashtra, a free popcorn for patrons showing a safe status on Aarogya Setu app. With the kind of movies that are up for release combined with the pent up demand of audiences to go watch a movie on the big screen , these two factors are actually the perfect recipe for 2 words - House Full.”
Maratha Mandir and Gaiety Galaxy’s Executive Director, Manoj Desai, says, “One public starts coming in then only we will get to know. The SOP is of 50% occupancy and we will open with exactly that. Even if 20 per cent people come in, I think we will be happy for the great start. If the public comes, then we will have a smooth sail otherwise we might have to cancel shows.”
Film Distributor Sameer Dixit from Pickle Entertainment says, “Maharashtra is the last state to open theatres. That’s a bad and disheartening thing. Despite zero death cases in Mumbai and Pune, still theatres are asked to open in 50% occupancy. Many states have opened up theatres in cent per cent capacity, whereas in Mumbai, where there is the maximum business for films, it’s opening on 50%. Theatre exhibitors are slightly upset because of that. Then the losses that they have faced haven’t been compensated in any way whether it’s electricity bills or property taxes. Single screens might have to get their seats and all renovated as they’re all in bad condition after the lockdown. They need to have an initial investment of 30-40 lakhs which they don’t have. Multiplexes would open up, but single screens are still in a dilemma as to how to open up. ‘Sooryavanshi’ will be a game changer.”
Veteran film producer Anand Pandit says, "The reopening of theaters in the state really couldn't happen at a better time. The threat of the pandemic is finally slowly receding, and while we're still cautious, we're getting the valuable opportunity to showcase our films the way they were meant to be showcased. Audiences in Maharashtra have always reveled in the cinema and its power to make everything better, and I'm sure every theatrical release will be welcomed with open arms. And I believe its not just the cinephiles who are eagerly waiting, but every person who misses the simple experience of enjoying a good film on the big screen. From a business point of view, given that Maharashtra is one of the biggest entertainment markets, theaters reopening is a positive sign of the industry regaining normalcy. Truly a great start to Diwali."
It seems like the theatres should get back to their former glory by Diwali when 'Sooryavanshi' would be released. Till then, it might just be a dry run for all that's coming ahead.